Baker City, Oregon
Chinese American laborers worked on railroads in gold mines in Baker County, Oregon. In 1900, Baker City’s Chinese American population peaked at 264 citizens, 4% of the city’s total population of 6,663. Ten years later, the Chinese population was only 37 out of 6,742. Today Baker City residents of Chinese descent represent slightly less than 1% of the town’s nearly 10,000 citizens.
Baker City’s “China Town” was located in the vicinity of Auburn Avenue and Resort Street. In 1886, it included half a dozen Chinese stores, a gambling establishment and a temple or “joss house.” A residential and garden area extended east along Auburn Avenue and south to Spring Garden.
A Chinese Cemetery was used for burials from 1880-1940. Some years after burial, most remains were exhumed and transported to China for final burial by previous arrangement with the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of Portland, Oregon. Of the approximately 46 people originally buried in the cemetery, one marked grave remains, that of Lee Chue, 1882-1938.
Pavilion designed and manufactured in Suzhou, China, and dedicated in Baker City at the Chinese Cemetery on August 24, 2002.
Highlights: Two reader boards explain some of the history of the cemetery and of the Chinese American presence in Baker County. A new marker lists Sam Fong, Wing Fong, Yin Chin Huie, Ching Hung, Chung Lee, Hong Loy Lee, Kow Lee, Sun Lung, Hep Fong Wong, Kern Wong, King Wong, Poy You Wong, Tai Wong, Wing Wong, Yen Wong, Toy Koy Young, “and 50 others for whom no names or records are available.” Cemetery structures include a replica of the small, square stone burner (locally called “Prayer House”), used for burning prayer papers, paper money and paper objects for the departed. The Chinese Cemetery also features a new pavilion.
Also visit nearby Baker Heritage Museum that includes permanent and changing exhibitions on mining, timber, ranching, agriculture, early Baker City life, Chinese culture and wildlife. The museum is located just 1.2 miles from the Chinese Cemetery along Campbell Street. First opened in 1889, the Geiser Grand Hotel, receipient of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s coveted Honor Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation, also features a passageway once connecting the hotel to “China Town.” The hotel is located just 1.7 miles from the cemetery, west on Campbell Street and then south on Main Street.